Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cruise Industry Safety Standards Changes

Concordia Disaster
Brings More Changes

In the wake of the Costa Concordia accident, the cruise industry has examined the current safety standards and made modifications.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and European Cruise Council (ECC), have jointly announced new recommendations.  The new policies address issues related to personnel access to the bridge, passage planning and life jackets - all of which came under scrutiny during the Costa Concordia investigation.

Bridge Access

The new policy announced by CLIA states "bridge access will now be limited to those with operational functions during any period of restricted maneuvering or when increased vigilance is required." 

The period for increased vigilance is defined  as "any time a vessel is constrained in its ability to freely navigate, such as in a restricted waterway/channel, entering a port, or an area where there is an unusually high volume or compression of vessel traffic." 

The policy changes will most likely impact bridge tours, which are often part of "behind-the-scenes" activities offered to certain passengers, such as those with higher loyalty status with the cruise line.

Passage Planning

Voyage plans have always been a requirement under the International Maritime Organization's SOLAS conventions, however consistency and level of detail in the plans was previously not detailed in the formal polices.  The new language, adopted by CLIA and ECC, explicitly requires for the plan to be "drafted by a designated officer and approved by the master" well in advance of the sailing,  Recall that the master of Costa Concordia claims that he was authorized to do the "sail by salute".

Life Jackets 

The change in life jacket policy calls for ships to carry more life jackets than are currently legally required.   SOLAS currently dictates that ships carry life jackets for every berth, which may be higher than the number of persons onboard, plus five percent. In practice, the majority of cruise ships carry many more life jackets than is required, but the new policy will raise the official mandatory minimum. 

Some Concordia passengers indicated that they had to return to the cabins in the dark in order to retrieve their life jackets.   The new limits will mean the muster stations will be required to increase the quantities available for passengers unable to return to their cabins in an emergency to retrieve their life jackets.

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